Two Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board appeals pertaining to the conversion of The Bethlehem Inn into professional offices and to the erection of an electronic advertising sign at 2224 Industrial Drive will be heard Aug. 22 after City Council is expected to adopt its new zoning ordinance on Aug. 7.
John Brew of 262 Paradice Found LLC is seeking a special exception to convert a corner property at 476 N. New St., at the intersection with Market Street, into professional offices.
The 1845 three-story building has housed a bed and breakfast establishment owned and operated for the past 25 by Robert and Suzanne Virgilio, who wish to sell it to Brew.
Brew appealed last month to zoners for variances from the city’s off-street parking requirements and to relocate his community banking consulting business to the building in a residential zoned district. The inn has three parking spaces and five would be required for Brew’s 10 employees. Brew had said he would operate the office Monday to Friday, maintain the existing interior and exterior, and obtain parking for employees at the city’s Walnut Street Garage.
His appeal was turned down.
Residents opposed to the variances cited parking and traffic congestion, preservation of the integrity of the city’s historic district as single family dwellings, and a need to demonstrate hardship to meet variance requirements. They argued that the building could be converted easily to a single family dwelling, and that granting a variance would “take another piece of property off the residential roles.”
Under the city’s pending new zoning ordinance, which is expected to be adopted Aug. 7, Brew will now appeal the project as a special exception. The building has in the past housed students and dental and optometric offices.
Appeals by Brew and Lamar Advertising were on the June 19 zoners’ agenda, but continued to August. Zoning Hearing Board counsel Mickey Thompson explained that zoners will have to rule upon the appeals under the provisions of the new zoning ordinance.
Lamar Advertising of Allentown on behalf of owners Chon and Kun Lam are seeking variances to erect a 672-square-foot off-premises electronic changing message sign in an industrial zoning district. They are seeking a variance from the 25 foot maximum height permitted above the grade of Route 22 to a proposed 60 feet. In addition, they are seeking a variance from the minimum distance between electronic changing message signs, from 1,000 to a proposed 508.94 feet.